JOPLIN, MO -- Overnight Freeman Hospital had to act quickly to accommodate a record breaking number of patients.
So far, that strain on the hospital seen has not let up
Since May 22nd, Freeman Health System has put a lot of effort into handling their increasing paitent load.
"I thought I had seen everything you can see," Freeman Health System nurse Leslie Allen says."We saw things I never would have imagined to see in Joplin, Missouri."
In 25 years of working as a nurse for Freeman Health System in Joplin, Leslie Allen says the night of May 22nd was like nothing she had ever experienced.
"The injuries that are specific to a disaster like that are something we have never been exposed to it," Allen says.
When the tornado hit and destroyed St. Johns Mercy Hospital, Freeman employees instantly had to make do with the supplies and staff they had on hand.
"It was overwhelming and yes it was chaotic," Allen says. "There's no way to really prepare for that, but I think we did a wonderful job."
Even now, almost a year after the storm, Freeman Health officials are still seeing a twenty percent increase in patients daily.
They've responded to those numbers by hiring 329 nurses and 35 doctors in the last year.
"It's been very busy," Allen says. "We've learned a lot and we've grown a lot."
Those lessons learned from the tornado are something CEO and President Paula Baker says will make freeman better prepared for the future.
"We definitely learned the hard way,"CEO and President Paula Baker says. "We are much stronger organization because of that."
Baker says she couldn't be more proud of what her staff has been able to accomplish throughout the last year.
"I think they have done things that have seemed humanly impossible, but they did because our community need," Baker says.
Freeman Health officials have expanded their facilities to accommodate the influx of patient volume.
They added 29 beds to the 5th floor and are hoping to another 60 to the 6th floor by September.